Business

Thumbnail image for What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

by At Large 09.20.2014 Business

Food for Thought

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

My journey into the world of dog food ingredients began when my two-year-old mutts, Olive and Dexi, embarked on a hunger strike of sorts. They’d circle around their food bowls a foot away, sniffing all the while, only to walk away in protest before getting close enough to really get a good look. It felt as though they thought I might be trying to poison them, or at least pull a fast one of some sort.

I served what I thought were top-tier kibble and wet foods, never skimping on price and offering plenty of variety to avert boredom. I changed commercial foods numerous times, trying every ilk of so-called natural lines marketed as organic, grain-free and the like, yet still my offerings were snubbed. I’ll never know if they actually conspired to get my attention, but get my attention they did when they’d go two days without eating a bite, ostensibly giving in only when hunger forced them to.

I became convinced Olive and Dexi were rejecting the meals based on odor, inspiring my 3-part investigation into dog foods: first, to understand the canine sense of smell; second, to master commercial dog food labeling; and third, to discern what canine diet might really be best. I’ve concluded that the answer to the latter might not be as simple as one would wish.

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Thumbnail image for ‘I Believe That We Will Win’ – San Diego Activists Rise Above the Fray

‘I Believe That We Will Win’ – San Diego Activists Rise Above the Fray

by Doug Porter 09.19.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The six hundred forty six columns and stories I’ve written about San Diego in this space over the past 27 months have led me to an awareness of just how vital activism has become in this community.

Howard Zinn, loathed by right-wingers everywhere, writes from the perspective that  activism and social movements are driving forces in history.This is different from the heroes/villains methodology or the feast/famine/war/peace way [how the mass media see the world] of understanding the course of events.

This week in San Diego is, I think, a validation of Zinn’s approach. Even as battles were lost (the Chamber of Misery’s minimum wage referendum), other struggles were victorious (the taxi drivers’ quest for reform). This weekend’s People’s Climate March in downtown is just one manifestation of 2700 other rallies around the world making the point that the world can no longer afford to delay substantive action on this issue.

Today’s column will discuss some of the many fronts for activism in San Diego and around the nation.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

by At Large 09.19.2014 Activism

Shamu, we hardly knew ye

By Linda Perine / San Diego Woman’s Democratic Club

For most of us it has been a slow, painful process to understand that our love affair with cute, cuddly, smiley Shamu has made us participants in a cold-blooded business that imprisons and mistreats sentient, social creatures in ways that turn the stomach and shock the conscience.

Concerned environmentalist and civic leaders have been telling us for years that the capture of orcas was nasty and brutal involving bombs and machine guns, the violent separation of babies from their mothers and resulting in injury and death to many orcas in the wild. Books criticizing the Sea World business model and its exploitation of captive whales and dolphins just did not register.

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Thumbnail image for Is San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law Going Under?

Is San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law Going Under?

by Source 09.19.2014 Business

By Paul Campos / Lawyers, Guns and Money

Thomas Jefferson is a big, although shrinking, ABA law school in San Diego, featuring horrible employment statistics (less than three in ten graduates have legal jobs nine months after graduation), terrible bar passage rates (over the past three years less than half of the school’s graduates who have taken the California bar have passed), and mind-boggling debt figures (the 2013 class took out an average of $180,000 in law school loans, which means its members had an average of around $215,000 in law school debt alone, not counting undergraduate debt, when their first loan payments became due in December).

A few years ago, this institution decided it would be a good thing to build a swank 305,000 square-foot eight-story building in downtown San Diego, at a cost of around $90,000,000. The project, which was completed in 2011, was beset by litigation over “alleged construction flaws and unpaid debts.”

The project has also been plagued by remarkably bad timing, as it opened just as the law school reform movement was generating the kind of major media coverage that led to a crash in applications to law schools generally, and to TJSL in particular.

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Thumbnail image for As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

by Doug Porter 09.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The poverty rate in San Diego has risen over the past year according to data released by U.S. Census Bureau this week. A total of 209,045 San Diegans (15.8%)  lived below the federal poverty level last year, including more than 64,000 children (21.9%) of all children in the city.  

The release of this report comes two days after the San Diego Chamber of Commerce claimed success in a referendum campaign effectively halting implementation of a local minimum wage increase. Much of the money for that campaign reportedly came via the California Restaurant Association.

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Thumbnail image for California Fish Stories – How Some Seafood Has ‘Come back’ and How San Diego’s Bluefin Tuna ‘Is On the Way Out’

California Fish Stories – How Some Seafood Has ‘Come back’ and How San Diego’s Bluefin Tuna ‘Is On the Way Out’

by Frank Gormlie 09.18.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

There’s mixed California fish stories right now. There’s good and bad.

Twenty-one species of commercial fish have just come off the ‘watch list’ and are no longer on the ‘avoid list’.

On the other hand, at the same time, the population of Bluefin Tuna – popular here in San Diego – has plunged to just 4% of its historic highs on a worldwide basis.

It was recently announced that 21 commercially important species of West Coast groundfish have been removed from the “Avoid” list. This was announced by the prestigious Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. They were upgraded to either “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative”, and includes species such as sablefish, rockfish typical sold as “snapper,” and popular flatfish species caught by bottom-trawl and other methods.

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Thumbnail image for Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 09.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders took to the airwaves yesterday to announce his group of paid canvassers had gathered 56,000 signatures (at up to $12 each) towards implementing their plan to keep the working poor in poverty for as long as possible.

There was no longer any pretense about a “small business coalition” fighting to save mom and pop stores from bankruptcy or simply getting this issue before the voters. This campaign was about the power of the wealthy to dictate policy to the city. This was and is about the sustaining an economic model that asks taxpayers to subsidize lower tiers of workers via government programs while corporations rack up record profits.

By the time financial reports reveal just how much money was spent by the Chamber and their corporate allies in the hospitality industry spent to gather signatures, the San Diego clerk’s office will have certified the results. I’ll venture a guess that they spent over a million bucks, probably not including the hotel rooms provided for vagabond canvassers from as far away as Michigan and Ohio.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

by Doug Porter 09.16.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Cab drivers in San Diego who have stood up for reforming industry regulations have been unilaterally punished by company owners in recent days. Drivers are asking the city to lift a cap on the number of permits issued for taxis. The two sides are headed for an epic showdown before a City Council committee this week.

Cab company owners are desperately trying to preserve a lucrative franchise enabled by taxpayers. San Diego’s taxi drivers are ‘independent contractors’ who have virtually no control over the way they’re allowed to run their “business” of driving a cab. Mostly they eke out a living under terms set by a few anointed property owners (in this case the property is the license required to operate) who set terms and conditions.

One driver who dared to grant an interview with San Diego 6 News following a press conference hosted by City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City attorney Jan Goldsmith was asked to “turn in his keys” (industry parlance for you’re fired).

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Thumbnail image for Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

by John Lawrence 09.16.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

Corporations are relentless about setting up tax avoidance schemes and finding new and improved ways of getting out of paying taxes.

One method is to set up a corporate subsidiary in the Cayman Islands which doesn’t require any taxes to be paid. This works well for collecting royalties on patents because the patents can just be transferred to the subsidiary, and, voila, no taxes need be paid at all. Other companies which do a great deal of selling abroad have money piling up in foreign jurisdictions.

US law requires them to pay taxes on this money when they bring it back into the US. So these companies like Microsoft, Apple and Qualcomm are always lobbying for a “tax holiday”, which would allow them to bring this poor, lonely money home without paying taxes on it. Corporations are people, remember, and money is their Mother’s Milk.

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Thumbnail image for How Smart Was That Lambchop? And Do His Friends Miss Him?

How Smart Was That Lambchop? And Do His Friends Miss Him?

by At Large 09.13.2014 Business

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko /Boogie Green

“Sheepish,” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “resembling a sheep in meekness, stupidity, or timidity.” Society as a whole seems to agree that sheep are none too bright, given the familiar insult that someone is dumb as a sheep.

But what do we really know about what goes on inside a sheep’s brain? And, if they aren’t as dumb as we’ve believed, should attitudes change about eating them, using them for experimentation, or their treatment by the wool industry?

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Thumbnail image for City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

by Doug Porter 09.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

A citizen group represented by Attorney Cory Briggs has announced its intention to file a lawsuit blocking the city’s economic incentives package with Illumina, Inc.

An email sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council this week set a deadline of September 23rd for rescinding the agreement. The communique claims the approval process violated a City Charter provision requiring any deals made by the council lasting more than five years to include a public hearing and a legal notice published 10 days in advance of that hearing.

The Economic Development Assistance Agreement with Illumina, Inc, was approved on August 7th as a “Consent Item.” The ten year deal includes a promise to rebate $1.5 million in sales and use taxes in return for retaining “over 100 middle-wage manufacturing job opportunities” in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

by Jay Powell 09.12.2014 Activism

By Jay Powell

“… with the passage of AB 327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC. … recognize this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interest of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You—my fellow Commissioners—all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.”

This was one of six parting observations offered by Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron when he resigned from the PUC due to serious health issues in January of this year.

The “poisoned chalice” is what is on the table this next week. Those of you who are trying desperately to mind your “kwhrs” (kilowatt hours) this summer should be aware that you are about to be punished for your conservation, investments in energy efficiency and/or roof top solar.

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Thumbnail image for The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 09.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The struggle for a better life for nearly two hundred thousand San Diegans continues, as the forces of reaction desperately fight back following passage of an ordinance increasing the local minimum wage by the City Council.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from corporate hotel and restaurant corporations, has funded a campaign to force the issue to a referendum, which would have the effect of delaying any increase until July, 2016. While their sales pitch started out with the premise that citizens needed to vote on such a measure, it has gotten increasingly desperate in recent days.

The paid canvassers used by GOP consultant Jason Roe and the big business funded “Small Business Coalition” have quit in droves, mostly because they are unable to collect enough signatures to make a living. The bounty for names on their petitions has risen from roughly $2 per signature to $7 each at retail locations and $10 each if done door-to-door.

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Thumbnail image for Faulconer & Sanders Dine Like Gluttons

Faulconer & Sanders Dine Like Gluttons

by Junco Canché 09.11.2014 Business
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Thumbnail image for Living the Wage is Indeed a Challenge in San Diego

Living the Wage is Indeed a Challenge in San Diego

by At Large 09.10.2014 Activism

By Todd Gloria / President, San Diego City Council

My morning ritual on most days is to buy a cup of my favorite coffee in Hillcrest. This week I did not do that. I couldn’t because I was trying to live on the minimum wage. After paying for housing and taxes, I had $51 left to spend on all my expenses including food and transportation. This meant carefully considering how to spend every penny, and I couldn’t afford my morning coffee.

My reduced consumption wasn’t limited to coffee. I knew this challenge would require a drastic reduction in what I was able to contribute to the local economy.  I didn’t eat out this week. I didn’t dry clean my clothes. I skipped washing my car. The businesses that I did patronize saw far less of my money than they would in an average week.

As I struggled to live on $51 for one week, I didn’t lose sight of the fact that this is just an experiment for me. For thousands of San Diegans, roughly 38% of us, this is their life every single day.

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Thumbnail image for Staving Off Traffic Jams Along the Information Super-Highway

Staving Off Traffic Jams Along the Information Super-Highway

by Source 09.09.2014 Activism

Every major consumer group, a nationwide coalition of mayors, and thousands of startups and small businesses have joined millions of people in urging the FCC to save Net Neutrality.

By Timothy Karr / OtherWords

There was no vacation for the Internet this summer.

While many Americans slipped away to the beach, Internet users were busy defending the openness of a network that has become this era’s engine for free expression, ingenuity and just about everything else.

The threat comes from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has proposed new rules that would fundamentally change the workings of the Web — leaving its fate in the hands of a few powerful phone and cable companies.

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Thumbnail image for Dirty Energy’s Big Lie Campaign About California’s So-Called Hidden Gas Tax

Dirty Energy’s Big Lie Campaign About California’s So-Called Hidden Gas Tax

by Doug Porter 09.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Perhaps you’ve seen the the nagging ads on the internet. Or read the one of numerous op-ed pieces published in the dead tree media.

Their messages are simple. The California Drivers Alliance wants you to be afraid of an increase (a tax!) in gas prices come January.  And they want you to believe this increase is some part of a covert agenda.

The truth of the matter here is that the only thing covert going on is the financial backing of the oil and gas industry for groups appearing to be grass-roots organizations started by ordinary people. As is the case whenever astroturfing is involved, the truth is the last thing they’d like consumers to know about.

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Thumbnail image for For the Love of Taxi Workers: Hundreds of Immigrant Taxi Workers Mobilizing to Fight for Their Freedom

For the Love of Taxi Workers: Hundreds of Immigrant Taxi Workers Mobilizing to Fight for Their Freedom

by At Large 09.08.2014 Activism

By Sarah Saez

For the past three years San Diego’s community of taxi drivers have become my family.

We’ve been through a lot together through ups and downs of winning and losing policy battles, having to say goodbye to drivers we’ve lost to tragedies on the job mixed with moments of pure joy when drivers are able to come together to raise their collective voices for change.

As independent contractors taxi drivers are as marginalized as they come with no protections from labor law but virtually no control over the way they’re allowed to run their “business” of driving a cab.

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Thumbnail image for The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce: Oppressed Underdog?

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce: Oppressed Underdog?

by Jim Miller 09.08.2014 Business

A Pathetic Attempt to Re-Write History

By Jim Miller

Recently UT-San Diego sat down with San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders for an interview so he could lay out the Chamber’s “new” aggressive political action plan.

During the course of the interview Sanders was steadfast in his insistence that the Chamber exists to respond to the mythic hegemony of labor in San Diego politics.

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Thumbnail image for Live the Wage Challenge Highlights Low Pay Reality for Nearly 200,000 San Diegans

Live the Wage Challenge Highlights Low Pay Reality for Nearly 200,000 San Diegans

by Doug Porter 09.05.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

City Council President Todd Gloria is walking the walk this week, pledging to live on a minimum wage budget to draw attention to the real life consequence of the big business-sponsored campaign to block a local increase in pay for workers at the bottom of the pay scales.

Gloria, along with small business owner Alma Rodriguez and Arnulfo Manriquez, CEO of MAAC (the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty) held a press conference on Wednesday pledging to “Live the Wage Challenge.” After average expenses for taxes and housing are considered, this leaves them $51 for food, transportation and other basic necessities.

The beauty of this pledge is that it focuses attention on the day-to-day reality for low wage workers. Yes, it’s a stunt. It sheds light (and publicity) on the struggles that thousands of San Diegans face every day.

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On Strike! Shut it Down! Fast Food Protesters Take to the Streets in San Diego and Around the Nation

Thumbnail image for On Strike! Shut it Down! Fast Food Protesters Take to the Streets in San Diego and Around the Nation by Doug Porter 09.04.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Over 300 people took to the streets in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood this morning in support of fast food workers seeking higher wages and a better life. The plan was originally to occupy one of the quick service eateries along University Avenue as an act of civil disobedience. The Burger King, McDonald’s and Jack in the Box in the area all locked their doors, keeping employees from joining the protest and demonstrators out.

Undeterred, the group marched down University Avenue to Interstate 15 and staged a sit-in. Nine fast food workers and two supporters were arrested without incident. Traffic was snarled in all directions.

Included in this story are photos from San Diego and around the nation.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego: The Use and Abuse of the Transient Occupancy Tax

Who Runs San Diego: The Use and Abuse of the Transient Occupancy Tax

by At Large 09.03.2014 Business

By Cory Briggs / A Project of the Democratic Woman’s Club

TOT – this small word may bring to mind a cute little child, a deep-fried mashed potato, or a dash of your favorite adult beverage. But in San Diego, TOT, an acronym for Transient Occupancy Tax, stands for missed opportunities, fiscal irresponsibility, and a shameful abrogation of civic responsibility to the moneyed interest of hoteliers.

The recent implosion of the convention center expansion and what I hope will be the legal rejection of its elder, uglier stepsister, the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) tax, are primers on how the people who run San Diego seek to use your money to line their pockets with the help of a complicit mayor and city council.

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Thumbnail image for DeMaio Dissed by US Chamber of Commerce

DeMaio Dissed by US Chamber of Commerce

by Doug Porter 09.03.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s “New Republican” candidate for the 52nd Congressional District actively sought and failed to get the endorsement of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Instead, the pro-business group endorsed Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, saying “We will encourage the business community to vigorously support your candidacy.”

This makes Peters unique in that he’s supported by (some) organized labor groups and the largest pro-business lobbying group in the U.S. The Chamber’s lobbying expenditures in 2013 totalled $74,470, 000. In the 2012 Congressional elections they spent $33 million in support of mostly Republican candidates.

I’ll suspend judgement for a moment about just how scummy the U.S. Chamber is as an organization to crack wise about the DeMaio campaign’s reaction.

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Thumbnail image for Actions Set for September 4th as Fast Food Workers Vow to Do ‘Whatever it Takes’

Actions Set for September 4th as Fast Food Workers Vow to Do ‘Whatever it Takes’

by Doug Porter 09.02.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego is one of 100-plus cities targeted this Thursday as part of a nationwide protest of fast food restaurant workers aimed at low wages and working conditions.

Two new elements will be introduced into this latest round of protests, at least on a national level: acts of civil disobedience and a supportive presence by thousands of home-care workers joining the protests.

Workers are expected to strike at a dozen San Diego fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Box. Clergy, elected officials and community supporters will join fast-food workers on the strike lines, according to local organizers.

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Thumbnail image for The Fishiness of Mayor Kevin’s Tax Giveaway to Illumina Corporation

The Fishiness of Mayor Kevin’s Tax Giveaway to Illumina Corporation

by John Lawrence 09.02.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

San Diego’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer recently signed a deal with Illumina Corporation that was supposedly designed to keep the corporation from jumping ship and landing in another state or jurisdiction.

The City of San Diego agreed to rebate $1.5 million in sales and use taxes. In return Illumina promised to keep a number of jobs in San Diego for the term of the agreement. But the deal the City has entered into with Illumina is fishy on several levels.

With revenue of just over $1 billion last year, Illumina sells machines that sequence the human genome. The company leases 6 buildings in San Diego totaling over 560,000 sq. ft. and currently has 1500 employees.

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